This is the second of a 10-part series reviewing Indiana player performances during the 2020-21 season.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The old basketball saying goes that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. That certainly applied for Indiana guard Armaan Franklin this season, because he made great year-over-year strides for the Hoosiers.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Indianapolis struggled as a freshman, mostly because of a lack of confidence. But a year of maturity and 10 pounds of muscle gained in the weight room turned him into a completely different player during the 2020-21 season. He was Indiana's best perimeter defender – sadly, it wasn't even close — and he became the Hoosiers' best scoring option after Trayce Jackson-Davis, at least early in the season when he was healthy.
An ankle injury derailed him for a while, and then a foot injury did the same in the final weeks of the season. He missed five games – and the Hoosiers weren't the same without him – and when he did return, there were moments of struggles, especially with his three-point shot and his ability to attack the basket.
The improvements were great, but when Archie Miller was fired on March 15, Franklin entered the transfer portal a few days later. He did have a few talks with Mike Woodson after he was hired, but Franklin opted to transfer to Virginia instead, one of three Hoosiers to leave following the coaching change.
Here's a breakdown of his season, what I liked and didn't like, his best game and future prospects and – of course – his final grade.
There's also a terrific video chat with Hilltop30 Scholarship Fund winner Haley Jordan, so check that out as well:
Armaan Franklin by the numbers
- Games played: 22 of 27
- Games started: 21 of 27
- Average minutes: 30.1 (third on team)
- Points per game: 11.4 (second on team)
- Rebounds per game: 4.1 (third on team)
- Assists per game: 2.1 (third on team)
- Steals per game: 1.2 (first on team)
- Field goal percentage: 42.9 (87-for-203)
- 3-point percentage: 42.4 (36-for-85, first on team)
- Free throw percentage: 74.1 (40-for-54, second on team)
What I liked
The best thing about Franklin's 2020-21 season was seeing that growth as a player and all the potential that was there. Simply being bigger and stronger made him feel better about himself, and that confidence carried over to the court. After a slow start from three – he was just 2-for-12 in the first five games – he started looking for his shot more, and it paid off. He was 5-for-7 from three in back-to-back games against North Alabama and Butler in December, had five threes in the loss to Illinois and four more in the double-overtime win at Northwestern.
He became a viable scoring option, Indiana's most important go-to guy after Jackson-Davis, but they also looked for him to make big shots in crunch. There were none bigger than the game-winner over Iowa on Feb. 7 in Bloomington, when he hit a 15-footer with 1.8 seconds to go to give the Hoosiers a 67-65 win. What was ironic about that was he was just 1-for-9 shooting that night before the game-winner.
That was confidence right there, being willing to take the final shot even on a rough night. That's what Armaan Franklin had grown into – a leader you could count on.
What I didn't like
Franklin was a bit turnover-prone, and his 48 miscues were the most of any Indiana guard. He also had a few rough shooting nights (Purdue, Iowa and the finale against Rutgers), but I'm not going to be too critical about that, especially the 0-for-5 night from three against Rutgers in the season-ender in the Big Ten Tournament. He was really hurting, and probably didn't even belong out there.
There's not a lot to pick on, because he was far better as a sophomore and had a very good year. The injuries really took away a lot, and his worst nights were in those first games back, when he was kicking off rust with a bad wheel. Hard to fault a guy for that.
There were several choices, but my favorite was the Northwestern game, a double-overtime win on the road on Feb. 10. Franklin had 23 points, tying a season high, and had a career-high four steals. He also had five rebounds and three assists in what was a must-win game for the Hoosiers.
What was so obvious that night was that Franklin was on a mission in refusing to lose. His 23-5-3-4 night was a rarity, too. It was the only time all year that any Hoosiers posted that stat line or better.
Those future prospects, they're really good, but they won't be at Indiana. His transfer came as something of a surprise because he was really tight with many of his teammates and he would have flourished in Woodson's more up-tempo system.
But he will fit in just fine at Virginia, which plays the same packline defense he's used to in Archie Miller's system. They've won a national championship in 2019 and an ACC title a year ago, but they've lost a lot of pieces for next season. Franklin will start, and play well in the ACC, and you can count on that. He gave two years to the Hoosiers, and he gave all he had. He'll certainly do the same thing at Virginia.
Final grade – B-plus
B-PLUS: Armaan Franklin's gets a B-plus from me this season, and since we're going in order of the grades, that means that only one Hoosier – Trayce Jackson-Davis – got an A this season. Armaan was close, but the injuries slowed him down a bit. Still, he was Indiana's best perimeter player by far, and he did a lot of good things. He was quickly replaced on the Indiana roster with some quality talent, but he'll still be missed.
Previous 'Final Grades' stories
- TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was Indiana's leading scorer and rebounder this year, and there was no question he was the Hoosiers' best player. Here's his grade. CLICK HERE
- ARMAAN FRANKLIN: Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin made great year-over-year strides and emerged as Indiana's best perimeter threat on both sides of the floor. CLICK HERE
- RACE THOMPSON: Redshirt junior Race Thompson fought through injuries at the end of the season and battled in the post all year during his fine season. CLICK HERE
- AL DURHAM: Senior guard Al Durham was up and down, but he conclude his career as one of 53 Hoosiers to score 1,000 points all-time. CLICK HERE
- NEXT UP: Indiana junior guard Rob Phinisee.
- TWITTER: Follow Tom Brew at @tombrewsports and all of our Indiana coverage at @HoosiersNowSI
- FACEBOOK: Like our Facebook page to see all of our Indiana content every day. Click here to like the page at Facebook.com/SportsIllustratedIndiana